The It Happened to Alexa Foundation will celebrate 10 years of successfully supporting hundreds of victims of sexual assault and their families - aiding U.S. citizens in 42 states and 14 foreign countries - at its 10th annual fundraising dinner.
Founded by Tom and Stacey Branchini, It Happened to Alexa Foundation honors the courage of their daughter, Alexa, who survived a traumatic rape by a stranger who broke into her college dormitory the second week of her freshman year.
The only one of its kind in the country, this Lewiston-based national foundation provides financial, emotional and advocacy assistance to victims who prosecute their attackers.
The Alexa Foundation has garnered national attention numerous times over the past 10 years, including coverage on "The Montel Williams Show," CNN, "Today," in People Magazine and many times on "The O'Reilly Factor."
"Regardless of one's political or personal views of Mr. O'Reilly, the Alexa Foundation is forever indebted to him," organizers said. "Like many other not-for-profits, IHTAF had a few years of struggle - at which time Mr. O'Reilly came to the rescue and supported our first fundraiser in Palm Beach (Florida). The funds from this single event sustained the organization for that year."
Since that time, IHTAF has had four more fundraising events, including the very first one at the Niagara Falls Country Club in 2002. Organizers said it was the financial support initially provided by the people of Western New York that launched The Alexa Foundation.
Thanks to sound financial management by the Alexa Foundation founders, the money from the initial fundraising dinner was set up as an endowment, which has been building the past 10 years. Each year, the annual Alexa Foundation fundraiser is central to the organization's financial wellbeing.
As word of the Alexa Foundation spreads, the amount of victims contacting it for assistance also grows.
Readers can support the work of the Alexa Foundation by purchasing a ticket or table, donating an auction item or by becoming a sponsor of the fundraising dinner on Friday, Aug. 3.
Activities include a basket auction, a raffle of $15,000 diamond earrings, and entertainment by the Free Henry! duo. Hosted by WKBW Channel 7 news anchor Keith Radford, the evening will be highlighted by a presentation of the Advocate for Change Award, to be presented to investigator Christine Borowski (New York State Police) and investigator Carol Weigand (Erie County District Attorney's Office). These two investigators are being honored for their outstanding service and support to sexual assault victims in Western New York. Nominated by their peers, both women have worked tirelessly for numerous years in the field of sexual assault.
"We are honored to be presenting these outstanding women with some small token of appreciation for all the good they do for WNY," said Alexa Foundation founder Stacey Branchini.
Ticket prices for the fundraising dinner are $125 each or $1,000 for a table of 10.
Sponsorships are still available, as are raffle tickets for $25 each, or five for $100.
The raffle prize is a pair of 3.25-carat diamond, yellow gold earrings valued at $15,900.